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For most people, Internet Explorer was the default search engine that they used on their first computer. 

Through sheer dominance of the market, Microsoft was able to package its own browser with machines and, via market saturation and power of numbers, make Internet Explorer the default browser of choice. The fact that it had its bugs and problems was irrelevant – for those not in the know, who else was there to turn to?

Netscape Navigator had its heyday in the 90’s, but by the early 2000’s had virtually disappeared. The came Firefox, attracting users with its sleek looks and, frankly, because it was a viable alternative. 

So how’s your favourite browser stacking up against the competition?

Now, Google Chrome is grabbing its share of the market. With no new real competitors coming on the scene for a few years, the big three: Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome, are left to fight a three way war that resembles grinding trench warfare. 

The Smaller Outfits

Over 2013, the three main browsers – IE, Firefox and Chrome, unsurprisingly continued their dominance over smaller rivals like Safari and Opera. Using up-to-date statistics from StatCounter, we can compare and contrast their fortunes. 

This, however, does not mean that they are totally falling away. Safari, from May 2013 to December 2013 saw a mostly dependable, sometimes plateauing, presence, routinely flirting with a 10 percent market share, but not quite reaching it. 

From May to December 2013, Safari started out with an 8 percent share, steadily rising (and sometimes falling a little) until December 2013 saw it rising to a yearly high of 9.14 percent. This grew over the New Year, translating to a 9.73 percent share in January 2014. Safari’s popularity topped out in March of this year, only 0.9 percent off a ten percent market share. 

The story with Safari seems to be steady, slow gains, with the pattern pointing to them breaking the 10 percent barrier at some point in 2014. 

At the same time, Opera maintained a presence in the 1 percent area. From April 2013 to April 2014, Opera moved from 1.01 percent to a high of 1.39 percent browser market share.

  • Aside from the big three of IE, Firefox and Chrome, smaller browsers also showed some interesting movement
  • Safari spent the year between April 2013 – April 2014 maintaining a share between 8 percent, flirting with a 10 percent share in March 2014, when it captured 9.91 percent of the market
  • Overall, Safari seems to be trending in the right direction
  • Safari’s behaviour seems to indicate that it will break the 10 percent barrier at some point in 2014 
  • Opera kept a steady share in the 1 percent range, topping out at 1.39 percent in April 2014

Firefox

Firefox began May 2013 with a healthy 20.06 percent share of the browser market, which held firm and rose to 20.09 in July 2013. 

After this point, however, Firefox saw a drop in usage. This bottomed out in October 2013, with Firefox losing nearly two percent of its share of the market and falling to 18.11 percent. Firefox’s numbers remained in the sub-twenty percent realm for the rest of the year, with April 2014 seeing their numbers at 18.62 percent.   

Firefox’s decline over this period matched up well with gains for its two main rivals. Between July and December 2013, when Firefox saw its number hit a trough, Internet Explorer made big gains. At the same time, Chrome exhibited some losses but rebounded strongly. Firefox, on the other hand, never recovered its July 2013 peak of 20.09 percent. 

This could point to long-term problems for the health of Firefox, as it simply does not seem to have the robust recovery powers of Chrome. Chrome can shake off three percent market share losses and recover them in a few months. Firefox, on the other hand, took a hit in July 2013 and never really recovered. Add to this the fact that, from February to March 2014, Firefox saw more small, but steady, declines, then Firefox’s best days might be behind it.

  • Firefox began 2013 with a 20.06 percent share of the browser market, peaking in July 2013 at 20.09 percent
  • After this, however, Firefox saw a sub-twenty percent drop that it did not recover from
  • Since February 2014, Firefox’s numbers have again been in decline, falling to 18.63 percent in April 2014

Internet Explorer

Despite many people considering IE outdated or buggy, it retains a sizeable portion of the market due to its sheer size and popularity. 

The period between May 2013 and May 2014 saw IE start with a decently healthy market share of 29.71, second only to Chrome but, beyond that, it was a period of peaks and troughs, with IE never recovering the peak numbers of April 2013. 

Indeed, from April 2013 – June 2013, IE lost a hefty five percent of their share of the browser market. From July to October 2013, the numbers rose again to 28.96 percent. This rise in numbers probably has much to do with the anticipation surrounding the release of the newest version of IE – Internet Explorer 11, which saw release in October 2013. 

However, these numbers immediately dropped again, taking a steady slide from October’s boost and falling to a yearly low in December 2013, coming in at 23.24 percent. Needless to say, this does not reflect well on Microsoft’s newest IE release if numbers immediately plummet. 

This year saw the decline trend continue, with numbers eventually settling at 21.43 percent in April 2014. 

  • May 2013 saw IE market share at 29.71 percent
  • Over 2013, IE saw its numbers fall and then rise again leading up to the October 2013 release of IE 11. 
  • After this, numbers immediately fell again and continued to descended, eventually settling at 21.43 percent in April 2014. 

Chrome

Comfortably sitting atop the browser kingdom, Chrome continued its dominance across 2013 and up to the present in 2014. 

Beginning with 41.38 percent market share in May 2013, Chrome held steady until August 2013. This drop is in line with the drop of Firefox and the surge of IE around the release of IE 11. 

Chrome quickly recovered, however, rising to 43.92 percent in December 2013 and more or less holding steady until March 2014, when it again jumped upward, which correlated with similar losses for IE and Chrome. 

Chrome, in April 2014, stand at 45.22 percent of the browser market share, demonstrating a more than one percent increase over the previous month. 

Overall, Chrome’s share is robust, shows resilience to competitor challenges, and is still going from strength to strength. 

  • Chrome, unsurprisingly, still retains market dominance, sitting in the 40 percent bracket for the majority of the period measured
  • It suffered slightly when IE 12 saw release, but quickly rebounded with strong numbers
  • Chrome began 2014 with steady numbers, which gradually rose to a high of 45.22 percent market share 

 

As advanced as iPads are – and they continue to advance, seemingly on a monthly basis – they still have one major drawback. Relying entirely on touchscreen technology means a big, vulnerable screen that requires protection, with sometimes the smallest impact causing big problems. Let alone an unprotected iPad falling from someone’s hands onto a pavement or hard floor, which is enough to send shudders down the spine of iPad users everywhere.   

Protect your iPad 

Because iPads take up an increasingly important place in people’s lives and are not cheap, their users are constantly searching for the perfect means of protection.  This means the market for iPad cases is extremely well populated and varies significantly in quality. This article will look at some of the best and provide something to fit every taste. 

RokLock iPad Case

Sporting a chunky, futuristic exterior, the RokLock definitely has the looks. However, this is not a case of style over substance, as it also has the science to back up the robust design. 

Constructed from polycarbonate, an extremely tough material that can definitely handle the rough-and-tumble of daily office and home life, it looks as if it could very well stop a bullet, let alone resist an occasional case of the butterfingers. Yours for around £40, this is a very sturdy case with a design that has a nice, substantial feel to it. 

Griffin Survivor iPad Case

The Survivor from Griffin is so sturdy that, in the event of a nuclear war, it could very well just be cockroaches and Griffin Survivor cases left. Coming in at just under £30, it is also great value. The under layer of the case makes use of the familiar polycarbonate, which is then covered in silicone. Griffin does not do things by halves, and for the Survivor they actually consulted the U.S Department of Defense.

Using the DoD’s rigorous testing standards – which goes by the snappy name of Mil-Std 810G – the Survivor goes through the same levels of testing that the US Military uses on their own equipment. 

The case seals every possible route that moisture or dust could use to infiltrate the phones and, at the same time, protects against big and small bumps, vibration and anything else you care to throw at it. 

G-Form Extreme Portfolio iPad Case

Coming in at £29.99 the Extreme Portfolio offers amazing protection. It almost has the look of body armour, with its sculpted, thick design. 

When held normally, the Extreme Portfolio has a flexible, soft feel but, once an impact strikes, it becomes hard and protects the precious iPad within. G-Form dubs this, ‘Reactive Protection technology’ –RPT for short. The Extreme Portfolio is waterproof, light at just over 500 grams and offers amazing protection. 

Hard Candy Shockdrop iPad Case

The Shockdrop has a great Tron-esque look to it, with a nice contrast between the grey and orange colour scheme. The recessed design gives it a very nice, hardy look and feel and, in addition, makes it easy to grip and carry the device. 

As for protection, the main body of the Hard Candy Shockdrop is a hardwearing rubber, with 10-millimetre silicon at the corner. Falling onto a corner – because all of that force impact on a small area – is often disastrous for iPads. The silicone buffers of the Shockdrop eliminate this worry. 

The screen, too, receives ample protection. The screen protector allows for total functionality and, at the same time, completely protects against scratches and other mishaps. 

The Hard Candy Shockdrop comes in at around £20 and provides amazing protection for the price. 

Gumdrop Drop Tech iPad Case

Costing about £40, the Drop Tech from Gumdrop has a somewhat subtle look but gets the job done. Offering two layers of durable protection, the Drop Tech promises protection against impacts, shocks and extreme conditions. 

The corners have the now-familiar reinforced protection, combatting those horrendous corner impacts and the construction looks somewhat like the outer shell of a beetle, with a ridged, interlocking design. 

Coming in a variety of colours, the Gumdrop Drop Tech also features an integrated screen cover, which does not inhibit iPad functionality in any way. The covering also protects those important ports, so no sand, dust or moisture can invade. With one eye firmly on use in extreme, challenging conditions, the Drop Tech is a no-nonsense quality piece of kit.

Ballistic Tough jacket iPad Case

Sporting a sober, chic design, the Tough Jacket from Ballistic has three different layers of protection. 

Perhaps more fitted for the work place than some of its competitors, the Tough Jacket has a boxy, sleek look to it. Its discreet appearance make it great for use at the office, but offers enough protection to make sure it survives any environment. Using it, for example, on a bust construction site should not result in any problems at all.

The Tough Jacket has raised lips running around its entire length, meaning that the vulnerable screen never comes to rest on any potentially damaging surfaces. Robust corner protectors are all present and correct. The Tough Jacket does just what it says – it provides a tough outer skin for your iPad. Costing around £40, the Ballistic Tough Jacket delivers great looks and protection for a price cheaper than expected. 


Today, most homes have a wireless network. Every internet provider furnishes customers with sleek wireless hubs that seem to double in speed every year.

When Wireless is just not enough

However, as most people have experienced at one time or another, there are times when wireless internet is not enough. Certain devices – gaming consoles or television, for example, may not have wireless capabilities. Yet, to get the most out of devices like this, most people want to play online or stream content from the internet. In cases like these, the dreaded Ethernet cable makes an appearance. Usually trailed across hallways and living room floors, they become an annoyance and a hazard no matter how much we try to hide them. 

When it comes to providing internet connectivity to tricky, out-of-the-way spots around the house, powerline connections can prove ideal. 

How Does Powerline Networking Work?

In a nutshell, a powerline network gives all of the benefits of a wired network, but without any of the troublesome wires.

A good example of something that could make use of a powerline network is the abovementioned hypothetical console. 

Some consoles come with wireless connectivity inbuilt; others require the owner to purchase an additional wireless adaptor. This means either paying more money for an overpriced wireless add-on, or running an Ethernet cable from the router to wherever the console might be. 

A powerline network eliminates both of these requirements. A basic powerline pack comes with two adaptors and two miniature Ethernet cables – do not worry, they will be out of sight. One adaptor plugs into the wireless router via the (non-invasive) Ethernet cable and then into the nearest wall socket. The second powerline adaptor plugs into the device – whether it is a console, computer or television, again via an Ethernet connection and the nearest wall socket.

Essentially, that is all. The two adaptors connect to one other by the electrical wiring inside the walls – this is how they operate. There is no need to install software, update drivers or configure anything. The two powerline adaptors will detect each other and are now connected.  

The signal travels from the router, into the first adaptor, along the electrical wiring in the walls, finding its way to the second adaptor. After this, simply plug in additional adaptors to any other devices to connect them to the same network. 

  • Strong, fast connections to devices without wireless capabilities
  • Two adaptors, with small Ethernet cables, can connect a device to the router using electrical wiring
  • Simple and clean – no need for Ethernet cables snaking around the house 

Different Powerline Types

There are a few separate types of Powerline networking and their development comes under the control of the HomePlug Powerline Alliance, an organisation that brings different manufacturers and standards of powerline hardware under a single canopy. 

Powerline AV first came on to the scene in 2005. It was the successor its frontrunner – HomePlug 1.0, which had a top speed of 14 Mbps. Powerline AV has a projected cap of 200Mbps, but the actual cap is likely to top out around 100Mbps. Still, this makes it able to support good quality audio and video streaming. Powerline AV also supports powerful 128-bit AES encryption, making data and connections extremely secure. 

The other major powerline standard is Powerline AV 500, which can provide speeds of either 100 or 500Mbps, depending on the native network.

Previously, Powerline was its own standard but, in 2010, it came under the same auspices as other networking standards. This means that that adaptors made by different manufacturers must be able to function together and generally provided standardisation and focus for the technology. 

In the future, the new standard of HomePlug AV2 looks set to kick up connection speeds to real-time Gigabit levels, and has compatibility with all existing standards. 

  •  Powerline AV provides real-time speeds of around 100 Mbps, has 128-bit AES encryption and ably supports high-quality audio and visual streams
  •  Powerline AV500 can give speeds of 100 or 500Mbps, depending on the internet connection available
  • HomePlug AV2 – the future standard- promises real-time Gigabit speeds 

Advantages of Powerline Networking

The most obvious advantage of powerline networking is eliminating the need for long Ethernet cables trailing everywhere. A non-wireless computer or device does not have to sit dormant or close to a router out of hatred for those long, hazardous cables. 

Another great benefit of powerline networking comes from the ability to extend a network, with ease and in a short amount of time. Previously, this might require more routers, then configuring them and sifting through the inevitable problems. With a powerline network, extending a network simply requires the use of a couple of adaptors. 

One of the biggest obstacles to wireless networks is spots that the signal fails to reach. An office in a basement or far away from the wireless router may struggle to gain reliable signal. Because powerline networks use electrical wiring, they do not have to fight through walls or floors to deliver their signal. No matter where the device, powerline networks can deliver if it is near a plug socket and wiring. 

  •  No Ethernet cables trailing to devices without wireless capabilities
  • The ability to extend a network quickly and easily. No supplemental routers, no frustration or annoyance extending the network
  • If the device is near a plug socket, there will not be any problems with connectivity or speed – something that wireless networks cannot always deliver 

 

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Microsoft office has been around for a very long time. Although it has powered offices around the world for decades now, many businesses still find themselves unsure about using a product that many view as intrinsically Windows-based on their Mac officer equipment. 

Microsoft Office For Mac

What some people are not aware of, however, is that Microsoft Office was available for Mac long before it began appearing on Microsoft machines. In fact, 1985 saw Word 1 appearing on the Mac OS. With this in mind, it becomes clear that there is a long relationship between Microsoft Office and Mac.  

The best reasons to think about adding Microsoft Office to business IT budgets for 2014. 

Office 365 is a Game Changer

In 2014, there has been a lot of talk about Microsoft Office 365, and for good reason. 

The intent of Office 365 is to mesh the eminent usability and power of the Office suite of utilities with the increasingly popular cloud. 

There are no installation disks, no boxes, and no physical product. The intent is to create a powerful platform for Mac-using businesses to create and share content, no matter the location. It gives businesses the ability to push and pull content from the cloud, greatly increasing accessibility to documents for businesses and their employees. 

  • A powerful content creation and delivery platform. 
  • By using the cloud, Office 365 offers unrivalled document accessibility.

Using the Cloud

The cloud – an evocative term for off-site file hosting, is becoming an ever-important part of business in virtually every market. 

Office 365 makes use of Microsoft’s cloud service – SkyDrive. Uploading files makes them accessible to any member of the business with the right access, eliminating the great office bane of lost or misplaced documents. 

In addition, mobiles devices such as smart phones and tablets can access documents on the fly. This makes it infinitely easier for roaming employees to upload and receive important documents, wherever, whenever. 

However, the business still has the option to store their files locally if they so wish. For sensitive files that the business feels more comfortable storing locally, this is ideal.

  • Office 365’s use of cloud makes it easy for business members to pull and upload documents anytime, anywhere. 
  • SkyDrive makes it easy for roaming employees to stay in touch and access the latest documents and information. 
  • Businesses can still store files locally, if they want to. 
  • Great Accessibility

Office 365 offers such great accessibility because it understands that modern business takes place across many arenas and uses many different devices. The days of employees tethered to desks are well and truly over. 

This is why Office 365 works in conjunction with Office Web Apps. 

Office Web Apps is a free application that works on mobile devices of all kinds that do not have Office 365. It is a limited version of Office 365, through which the user can edit and save documents to SkyDrive. 

Web Apps and Office 365 work together to create total accessibility for the user, allowing documents to flow to and from each other via the cloud. 

  • Microsoft has legislated for the fluid, roaming modern business. 
  • Office 365 works together with Office Web Apps – a portable, limited version of Office for mobile devices. 
  • Documents flow from Office 365 and Web Apps, with SkyDrive in between.

The Costs

Microsoft splits the costing of Office 365 between businesses that have a maximum of 25 users and those that have more. 

This is good for the small business, as they can save money rather than paying a flat fee that does not take into account their size. 

The Office 365 Small Business plan, for 25 users or less, costs £3.90 per month or £39.60 per user, per year. This includes five subscriptions per user for PCs or Macs, Office Web Apps.

Office 365 Small Business Premium will cost £10.10 per user, per month or £100.80 for a yearly subscription, per user.    

The midsize plan accommodates up to 300 users for £9.80 a month, whilst the Enterprise plan runs at £15.00 per user, per month and is for an unlimited number of users. 

Different Plans, Different Programmes

Depending on the plan that the business goes for, there are a couple of programmes omitted. 

The standard small business plans come with Word, Outlook, Excel and PowerPoint. They do not, however, receive Access, OneNote or Publisher. 

The higher scale plans come with all of the above programmes. 

Formats

One of the great concerns of businesses might be how well Office 365 interacts with documents from older versions of Office. This, however, is not a big problem. 

Documents created with Office 2010 and 2013 work with no problems whatsoever. Microsoft has ensured that total functionality and formatting remains between versions. Documents from Office 2007 may suffer with some lost functionality, but essentially should remain usable. 

Office 2003 documents, however, will not translate over. 

A great feature of Office 365 is the fact that other users – even if they do not have Office, can view documents on SkyDrive. They just need an invite and they are in. 

  • Documents made with Office 2007, 2010 and 2013 will work with Office 365. Only 2007 documents might show some loss in functionality. 
  • Office 2003 documents cannot function with Office 365, however. 
  • A user who does not have Office or a SkyDrive account can still see content with an invite. 

The Verdict

Office 365 offers flexibility and functionality that no other office suite can match. If a business has remote or roaming workers, Office 365 keeps them in close touch with the business. 

From the ground up, Office 365 is about modern business and the multiple devices that people need to use to access information today. 

For any business looking for a flexible, powerful document management solution for their Mac infrastructure, there is no better choice. 

Every day, more and more people get their entertainment fix by streaming from online. Whether it is movies, TV Shows, music or anything else, streaming has become many people’s main way of accessing entertainment.

Services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Instant have given people an easy, quick and convenient way to watch what they want, when they want. At the same time, YouTube offers access to a near-endless supply of content – both music and visual.

AirPlay versus Airtame

All of this content means that users often want to share it with others. However, that is not always so easy. A few people can watch a movie together on a laptop, but it is not the ideal viewing scenario.  Add to this the potential benefits of sharing audio or visual resources across a classroom or boardroom of laptops, then it becomes obvious why streaming has become so prevalent and why devices that can distribute or share a stream attract so much interest. AirPlay and AirTame do just this, and this article will look at the merits and pitfalls of both.

AirPlay

A big part of Apple’s philosophy has long been a ‘joined-up’ approach to design and thinking.

This means that every product and service they produce – whether iPhone, iTunes, iPad or AirPlay is all about how they connect and feed into each other.

A simple example is the iPod. Apple had a very clear idea of dominating the digital music market. The iPod was the first step, with iTunes the companion service that made it possible for Apple to grab such a large slice of the digital music revolution. 

Today, the iPhone and iPad have well and truly pushed the iPod aside, but the example stands. AirPlay is another great example of this kind of thinking.

Apple wants users to use those iPads, Macs and MacBooks to stream content over their home network. The aim is to make Apple products an intrinsic part of how their users consume entertainments, until they cannot do without it. The AirPlay is how they want to do this.

 

How it Works

In order to stream content via AirPlay, any devices the user wants to use have to connect to the same local network.  Airplay works over Wi-Fi, wired via Ethernet and Bluetooth connections. Whilst AirPlay handles Bluetooth connections differently, AirPlay still allows the user to manage these devices from AirPlay options.

There are two different ways to set up an AirPlay network when using a Wi-Fi network. 

The first is via an Apple AirPort Express. This is a small, handy wireless router that connects all of a user’s present Apple devices. An internet connection is not essential and the AirPort Express works without one. 

The second is over a wireless internet network. This is an easy option as most homes already have a router and network. All that remains is to connect each Apple device with AirPlay ability to the network. 

Once on the same network, each AirPlay-enabled device acting as a source will detect devices that might act as receivers on the network. This means that the source device – say, an iPad, will see other iPads, MacBooks or Apple TVs.

After that, the user selects the devices that they want to receive the streaming content.


Pros and Cons of AirPlay

Aside from the fact that AirPlay is an official Apple product, there are a number of upsides – and some downsides- to using it. 

Pros

  •  Even if the device a user has designated as the ‘source’ of their streaming, they can still use that device for other tasks like playing games, using Twitter and playing games. The device does not become useless once it begins streaming.
  • If streaming to an Apple television, the mobile streaming device acts as a remote control. This makes it easy to change content and, in the boardroom or classroom, to change slides, graphs and other content.   With each month, more and more Apps support AirPlay.
  •  AirPlay is easy and quick to set up.
  • The quality of streaming from the device remains lossless and the same quality as the source.

Cons

  • Sharing video will only work when sent to an Apple TV.
  • It is not possible to split the stream and watch/listen to different content on receiving devices – whatever the host device plays is what everyone watches.
  • In order for an Apple TV to stream or play copyrighted material, it has to have an internet connection. 

AirTame

Unlike the Apple-built AirPlay, AirTame comes from the crowd-funding market. Originally hoping to raise $160,000 for development, they soon smashed this and went on to raise over $1.6 million. This overachievement illustrates the amount of excitement many people have about AirTame. 

At the base level, AirTame is a HDMI device that offers the ability to locally stream content to any HDTV or capable device, as well as other computers that install the AirTame application. In addition, AirTame, due to the extra funding they received, AirTame aims to cater to Android, Windows and iOS phones. 

How it differs from AirPlay

The biggest difference from Airplay is that AirTame is that AirTame is not propriety. That is to say – the user is not bound to using it with Apple products. AirTame will work for any network or device, regardless of the manufacturer.

This gives all of those millions of users out there that do not use Apple products an alternative to Google Chromecast and other devices. 

Pros and Cons of AirTame

As a device that offers wider usability than AirPlay, there are many upsides for users looking for a flexible, quality option that is not from Apple or Google. 

Pros

  • The ability to stream content locally from a device to a HDTV, projector or other device of any brand or OS.
  •  Screen mirroring capability for any number of displays and the option to wirelessly send their desktop to another screen.
  •  Transferring a gaming session from PC to HDTV screen is quick and simple.

Cons

  •   AirTame is still in much earlier stages than AirPlay or Chromecast.
  •  At $89, AirTame is more expensive than either of its main rivals.
  •  AirTame does not have the backing staff or resources of Airplay or Chromecast, which gives them the edge in terms of support and development. 

Stacking them up

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As it stands, AirPlay has the backing of Apple and a head start on AirTame. These two things alone are big factors. Apple will likely offer updates, refinements and support of a scale that a small company like AirTame could only ever dream of.

AirTame, however, appeals to those millions of people that do not have Apple devices. What’s more, it is free to develop however it wants and perhaps go open-source. This means all kinds of creative, wonderful possibilities for the future.

AirPlay offers the sleek package of Apple, joining all of their devices together. AirTame has lots of growth potential and provides a great way to stream content however the user wants – no matter the OS or device.